Today, The Florida Aquarium’s Animal Response Team, supported by Florida Blue, returned Jupiter, a sub-adult loggerhead sea turtle, and three juvenile green sea turtles (Canaveral, Enterprise, and Satellite) back into the Atlantic Ocean at Gamble Rogers Memorial State Park on Flagler Beach in Flagler County.
The release of these four rehabilitated sea turtles was made possible through the Aquarium’s ongoing partnership with Florida Blue as well as the direct support of The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, who has authorized The Florida Aquarium to treat sick or injured endangered sea turtles. With an emphasis on critical care and release back into their natural environment, The Florida Aquarium’s Animal Response Team assists with sea turtle rehabilitation not only in Tampa Bay, but nationwide. They do everything they can to ensure the conservation and ongoing livelihood of these amazing animals.
The four turtles released include two of the most common species to Florida’s coastal waters: green and loggerhead sea turtles. Jupiter, a 75lb. sub-adult loggerhead sea turtle and these three green sea turtles (Canaveral, Enterprise, and Satellite) were brought to The Florida Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center in Apollo Beach earlier this year from the Volusia County Marine Science Center. These were among the first turtles to be cared for at the facility since it opened in January. All the turtles had suffered cold-stunning and other debilitating effects and were rescued on the state’s east coast.
Some of these debilitating symptoms included low red blood cell count, low blood sugar and a variety of infections. Cold-stunned turtles are unable to swim and can develop symptoms, including decreased heart rate, low blood circulation, and pneumonia. If they do not receive treatment, cold-stunned sea turtles can be susceptible to drowning, infections, predation, and boat strikes.
“Releasing these four turtles back into their natural habitat helps support our valuable, beautiful natural resources and reflects strong teamwork and commitment from various partners,” said Rachel Thomas, The Florida Aquarium’s Senior Biologist. “Thanks to the continued support of partners like Florida Blue, we are able to fulfill our mission of rescuing, rehabilitating, and releasing sick and stranded animals with their support and that of our community, we hope to rescue many more sea turtles in the years to come.”
The Florida Aquarium’s Animal Response team worked around the clock to monitor the treatment of the sea turtles affected by cold-stunning. They were able to warm the sea turtles to slowly raise their body temperature and provided them with additional supportive medical care.